Earlier this year I was asked to sit on an interview panel for a Director of Communications position. The organisation requested my support to reduce eight candidates down to four through a series of written and communication tests. I have helped a number of people prepare for job interviews with international organisations and companies, but I had not been in the recruiter’s chair for many years.
It was a great vantage point to assess what works and what doesn’t.
Below are ten observations based on interviewing candidates remotely:
1. Prepare. It is a cliché, but preparation does prevent poor performance. I was shocked that some candidates had scant knowledge of the organisation’s vision and mission and had not thought enough about the value they could bring. Employers are looking for what you can do for them: what gaps you can fill and what problems you can solve.
2. Don’t over-prepare. One candidate had obviously been privy to some confidential information and revealed it. This did not go down well with the panel.
3. Be prepared to answer questions based on your tests and motivation letter. As a side note, make sure that your cover letter is a single page. It should be employer centric and make them want to read your CV. (We received one letter that was 7-pages long – not a good indication of someone’s ability to be clear and concise!)
4. Give examples of what you like about the organisation’s mission, values and activities, and where it can improve.
5. Keep your answers short – less than 1 minute as it is very easy for the interviewer’s mind to drift. If they want to know more, they will ask follow-up questions.
6. Have real examples of when you have failed or not succeeded. This makes you more authentic.
7. Give examples of your experience from across your career and not just from one job, as this shows the breadth of your knowledge and expertise.
8. Don’t b…s…t! Interviewers are usually very senior and a good judge of character. They have interviewed countless people and can spot someone pretending to be someone they are not!
9. Don’t read your answers from a script. Everyone can see your eyes moving from left to right. It says you are not a great communicator as the audience loses connection and interest.
10. Look straight into the camera. If you look away and your eyes dart everywhere, it can make you seem unfocused and rather maniac!